New Marlins manager Mike Redmond arrived at his office at 5 a.m. Monday ready to go long before the Florida sun was shining, his thoughts already on a date 254 days from now: Game 1 of the World Series.
Ah, spring training. When all 30 teams are still contenders.
"Everybody's excited," Redmond said in Jupiter. "Obviously, we've got a tremendous opportunity for guys in this camp and I think everybody realizes that. It's a fresh start."
From a chilly and damp Phoenix to balmy Kissimmee, Fla., pitchers and catchers for 10 teams reported to training camp Monday, taking physicals, meeting new teammates and, in some cases, managers and coaches.
The pop of fastballs in mitts - and knuckleballs, in R.A. Dickey's case - could be heard, too.
Dickey, who won the Cy Young Award with the Mets last season, was traded to the newly stacked Toronto Blue Jays on Dec. 17 with a three-year, $29-million contract extension in hand.
On Monday, he reported to Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin, Fla., put on long blue shorts, high blue socks, a gray T-shirt and a Blue Jays cap and played catch in the outfield with minor-league pitching instructor Dane Johnson under a brilliant sun.
"It's been busy," said Dickey, 38, in demand after capturing the hearts of fans nationwide. "But I certainly understand it."
Dickey talked of the latest stop, a trip to India with his young daughters last month to work with Bombay Teen Challenge, a Christian charity that fights child sex trafficking. He was a victim of sexual abuse as a child.
"I think if I had to nutshell it," Dickey said, "it's incredible hope and incredible depravity. To try to walk in the middle of both is really something."
In Fort Myers, Fla., Red Sox principal owner John Henry put to rest reports that he was considering selling the franchise.
"You just don't get an opportunity to own something like the Boston Red Sox. ... These thoughts that we're somehow selling, those are just not true."
With a new manager, John Farrell, replacing Bobby Valentine after one disastrous 69-93 season, Henry likes Boston's chances.
In Kissimmee, Fla., the Houston Astros began their first day in the bruising AL West. One of the most inexperienced teams in baseball will wear fiery orange practice hats and jerseys that evoke the orange rainbow stripes of a better time for an organization that lost over 100 games each of the past two seasons.
"We've talked about change throughout the organization, from the time (owner) Jim Crane has taken over the ball club and all the hires he has made," first-year manager Bo Porter said.
"This year (the uniform change) kind of sets the tone because they visually see things have changed."
Also hoping for a clean start, Bartolo Colon is back with the Oakland Athletics after serving a 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test.
He had little to say crossing a damp practice field in Phoenix after a 90-minute exam but he's excited to be with a team that won the AL West in thrilling fashion last year, rallying over the final 10 games to grab the title from the Texas Rangers.
Manager Bob Melvin isn't worried about Colon getting right back in the flow with his teammates.
"He fit in very well here before and I see that being the same case," Melvin said. "He knows most of these guys and ... actually was a nice little resource for our younger starters."
As his teammates reported to Cardinals camp in Jupiter, Fla., Chris Carpenter told media in St. Louis he he's not ruling out pitching again - even this year.
Last week, the Cardinals said the former ace, 37, almost certainly won't pitch in 2013 and that his career is probably over after a recurrence of a nerve injury.
"Maybe I don't ever want it to end," Carpenter said. "I don't think I'll ever retire. ... I'll never say that word. There might always be hope. Maybe like when I'm 48, I can come back and pitch some more."